How to Ace Your First Year of College

My first day of classes!

My first day of class with my Egyptian flag!


Hello, first-year students!

You have made it through over half of your first semester at the University of Rochester, and got on the “college life” roller-coaster. By now, as first-year students, you’ve figured out the best way to spend your declining money, the shortest route to your classes using the tunnels, and the finest food station in Douglass Dining Center.

Nonetheless, adapting to a college environment takes time and marks your transition into adulthood. When I look back at my first year, it was a mixture of getting to know myself, experiencing new adventures, and making amazing memories. So, here are some tips to help you have a stunning first year!

1. Set clear goals. Having definite targets to achieve in a specific period of time will help your mind relax, function well, and focus on the small details.

2. Become close friends with your roommate(s) and hall-mates. Those are the people who will become your “safety net” as my resident adviser always said. They are probably going through experiences similar to yours and will keep you grounded. And they might become your best friends!

3. Don’t skip classes. By going to class, you capture the full knowledge, including important announcements. And it’s very important for the professors to get to know you.

4. Reward your soul. Although studying and socializing are very important, you need to invest some time into refreshing your soul. Whether it’s playing your favorite musical instrument, writing in your diary, or walking by the river, always find new ways to re-energize yourself.

5. Learn to use the resources around you. In a college environment, you—as a student—are the main point of focus, so you can always seek help from different sources such as the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, professors’ and teaching assistants’ office hours, and even your peers.

6. Keep an eye on your budget. You should start creating a budget and control the amount of money you spend. Also, having a part-time job on campus helps stretch your social circle, counterbalancing your course-load while supporting your budget. If you need tips on managing your money, follow the Financial Aid Office on Twitter.

7. Play sports. As a student, you don’t only need your mindset to be in top shape, but you also need your body to be active and strong to push you beyond your power. Exercising can vary from going to the gym to playing sports, or even doing simple exercises in your room. And the Goergen Athletic Center is always there!

8. Find your homesickness runaway. You might think “I won’t be homesick,” but it’s going to happen. Therefore, you need to find a runaway from that feeling, maybe it’s a phone call with your family, a journey into your photo albums, or a visit to the University’s Parent and Family Relations Office. You should face this feeling of homesickness, but make sure it doesn’t last.

9. Get involved on campus. Being involved on campus enables you to participate in the community, make new friends, and learn new skills. Clubs, sports teams, and Greek life are all ways to augment your experience at the University and zone out of the academics aspect for a while.

10. Make your room feel like home. Make sure to decorate your room very well, including all the posters and pictures of stuff you love. At the end of the day, you come tired to your room, and you’ll want to feel relaxed by this breeze of home.

Finally, your first year at college is a marvelous chapter in your college story, so make the most of it. However, keep in mind that it’s only your “first” year, and it’s never too late to change your mind. You don’t have to stay with a club that ended up not being what you thought it was, and you don’t have to commit to a major right now. You’re in college to learn about your major, yourself, and your hidden passions. You’ve worked very hard to get into college, so enjoy all your hard work and lay a groundwork for the amazing years ahead. And lastly, appreciate the “ever better” world that you have between your hands. MELIORA!


About the author

Amro Bayoumy

Hello! I'm a member of the Class of 2020 majoring in mechanical engineering and clustering in German language and culture. I'm from Egypt, but I've spent half my life in Abu Dhabi, UAE. I'm involved in Engineers for a Sustainable World, the Students' Association, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and the Student Association for the Development of Arab Cultural Awareness. PS: I love food! I am so thrilled to be sharing my experiences with everyone.

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